Should a freelance writer use paid or free sites to find work?
It depends on the site. If you mean sites like eLance where you pay for the allowance of more bids and more features, than I see so problem with that. If you are paying for some writing sites that charge just to let you in the door only to show you the same recycled material you can find yourself on various job boards, well - no! Personally, I don't pay for work. I use all the free features available and that's how I make my living. I think websites are more of a personal preference and what you want or need out of it.
You shouldn't have to pay for work. You just have to build up a reputation and a portfolio. You aren't going to make a lot to start with but if you start small you can really get somewhere.
I have a friend who has spent the last couple months sending pitches and writing articles for video game websites, not sure if he made very much money from it, and he got quite a few rejections but they all built up his portfolio and he was just recently offered a job writing articles for a video game company (I think).
Write a lot of good stuff and put it in the right places and build a network.
I know quite a few writers that use sites (like eLance and oDesk) that take a small fee when you get paid. I think those are probably a good place to start out and work to build up a portfolio. That being said, I would NEVER pay for work. Once you get a decent portfolio and create a few samples of the work you can produce, build yourself a website to show yourself off. When you have a professional appearance, you get paid like a professional. Just DO NOT ever bid on everything that comes down the pike. Those that hire freelancers notice this behavior. You could even end up being blacklisted on some of those freelancer sites. (I know a fellow who did that, and here are things to learn from his experience.)
When you are working for a client:
Always keep a professional attitude.
Don't be all hinky and try to get someone to pay you under the table. (This can hurt both of you.)
CHECK your work BEFORE you send it out. If you send badly written work (ie; work that is not spell- checked, work with Bad Grammar, work that looks like you beat the hell out of a thesaurus, etc.) it looks bad on you.
Always see to the client's preference for the type of file you send. Some will want simple .txt, some .pdf, some .doc., etc. Make sure you understand what they want.
Remain In Communication with your client. Every client has different needs and wants, and you give yourself the best advantage when you answer these needs and wants. The only way to know what they want, especially if they are somewhat unclear to you, is to ask questions. There are no stupid question. Clients would rather you ask, than do some crazy dance with you about the work you are producing for them.
WHEW. Hope this helps anyone trying to bust in on the freelancing dealio!
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